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The Tragedy of the Common Heritage of Mankind

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Shackelford, Scott
Journal: Stanford Environmental Law Journal
Volume: 27
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10240
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Social Organization
Subject(s): arctic regions
public goods and bads
internet governance
international law
common pool resources
Abstract: "This article develops a framework for property rights over natural resources in the international commons by first building a foundation for discussion. Part I analyzes the historical evolution of sovereignty over the commons from Westphalia to such modern notions as popular sovereignty. This analysis demonstrates that a combination of factors drove this evolution, but foremost among them was technological progress. Part II examines property rights in international law, including how the international law of the sea has developed over time to allow greater private economic development. Part III focuses on how proprietary rights already exist in the commons, and illustrates how these rights can be employed to avoid the tragedy of the commons scenario. In the future, the CHM regime will be further modified by capital exporting nations with advanced extractive industries, as has already occurred in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to allow for private exploitation demonstrating the extent to which technological progress impacts sovereignty over the commons. In conclusion, I argue that a modified leasehold system somewhat reminiscent of the Homestead Act could maintain the pillars of the CHM principle while allowing for limited property rights and sustainable economic development in the commons."

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